Foreign Affairs, Human rights And Security And Defence Committees

ECR Priorities: influence and credibility, national interest vs EU interest, defence cooperation, not defence duplication, defending human rights, tackling terrorism, overseas trade, EU enlargement, supporting our eastern neighbours, peace and stability, peace in the Middle East.


The foreign policy, security and human rights challenges facing the European Union in the years ahead are varied and complex. From terrorism to trade, armed conflict to human rights, what happens around the world affects us at home too.

In response to existing and emerging challenges, the ECR group has been at the forefront of shaping effective foreign, defence and human rights policy which respects national interests but also seeks to work with our international partners on issues of shared concern.

We will continue to ensure close cooperation between the European Union and international organisations like the United Nations, NATO and the G20 in order to address foreign policy, security and humanitarian challenges together.

We also continue to resist moves by the European External Action Service to extend its reach into areas of national competence, and will ensure its work and cost is properly scrutinised and accounted for. With conflicts on the EU’s eastern and southern borders we will also continue to work to ensure the European Union’s neighbourhood policy is effective, realistic and achieveable.

Influence and credibility

As the third largest group in the European Parliament the European Conservatives and Reformists are playing a leading role in the way the EU works with its international partners. Our work in areas such as stabilisation of the Western Balkans, on EU-China relations, the persecution of minority ethnic and religious groups in the Middle East, and on relations with Russia as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, is shaping EU policy in order to make it more effective and more credible. The ECR holds the chairmanship of the European Parliament’s security and defence committee, and is leading the debate about developing credible, workable policy which respects the rights of individual countries to take their own decisions in this area and resists moves for greater EU integration. Our chairmanship of European Parliament delegations for relations to countries from Canada, to Iraq, to India is also providing effective leadership at a time of growing threats to regional and global security.

National interest vs EU interest

While there are areas in which the EU can act together in the international arena, we continue to believe foreign and defence policy should remain the competence of Member States and should be driven by consensus between governments, and not by any EU institution. We will work to ensure foreign affairs and defence remain firmly under national control in order to safeguard vital national interests.

Defence cooperation, not defence duplication

Defence policy must always remain a matter of national sovereignty. As such, we will continue to support NATO as the cornerstone of our defence and security policy and maintain our strategic transatlantic alliance. We continue to resist moves towards the creation of an EU army and expensive new EU military structures which will undermine NATO and weaken our links with international defence partners. This is vital at a time when we need to work closely to combat terrorism and respond to regional conflicts around the world.

Defending human rights

Ensuring freedom and human dignity are at the heart of our foreign policy aims. We continue to promote human rights in the emerging democracies of the Arab Spring and in eastern Europe, as well as in Africa, Central Asia and Burma. We will also continue to support the work of human rights defenders and journalists in conflict areas, and have been a leading voice in promoting the rights of persecuted religious and ethnic minorities, and LGBTI people.

Tackling terrorism

The rise in Islamic State extremism and the thousands of EU citizens who have joined them is as much a threat overseas as it is to our security at home. We will continue to encourage greater cooperation between Member States and our international partners in order to combat this threat in order to secure long-term peace and stability in conflict areas, while promoting international action to bring those responsible for the violence to justice.

Overseas trade

To deliver jobs and prosperity at home and abroad we are playing a leading role in ensuring economic partnership agreements deliver freer, fairer trade for developing countries, as well as removing trade barriers between the EU, US and other major trading nations. We are also working to ensure trade agreements project European values worldwide, and will continue our support for the transatlantic alliance and the new EU-US trade deal, TTIP.

EU enlargement

The ECR group continues to play an active role in ensuring EU applicant countries fulfil the criteria for EU membership, including economic, political and social reforms, and the respect for human rights and the rule of law. This includes the on-going challenge of securing stability and peace throughout the Western Balkans to create the conditions for EU membership.

Supporting our eastern neighbours

The current conflict in Ukraine, and Russia’s role in it, has forced the EU to reappraise its relations with Moscow. Our members are actively working with the countries of the Eastern Partnership (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) in order to bring them closer to the EU, promote democratisation and the rule of law, and enhance people-to-people contacts, although there are concerns about developments in some of these countries.

We also support democratic opposition and human rights defenders active in Belarus. We strongly support the Association Agreements with Eastern Partnership countries.

Peace and stability

We are working with EU and international partners to secure long-term stability and political reform in the Middle East and North Africa and Eastern Neighbourhood countries, including on energy security issues. We will also continue working to deepen alliances beyond the EU, particularly in North and Latin America, the Gulf, and South Asia.

Peace in the Middle East

We strongly support a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our goal is a secure and universally recognised Israel living alongside a sovereign and viable Palestinian state. We will continue to work with international partners to secure these aims and to ensure both sides show the strong leadership needed to build trust and achieve peace.


ECR Members of the AFET Committee:

– Ryszard LEGUTKO MEP (PL), Committee Vice Chairman
– Charles TANNOCK MEP (UK), ECR Coordinator
– Bastiaan BELDER MEP (NL), ECR Deputy Coordinator
– Geoffrey VAN ORDEN MEP (UK)

Substitute Members:

– Nirj DEVA MEP (UK)
– Hans-Olaf HENKEL MEP (DE)
– Marek JUREK MEP (PL)
– Raffaele FITTO MEP (IT)

ECR Members of the DROI Sub-Committee:

– Mark DEMESMAEKER MEP (BE), ECR Coordinator
– Hans-Olaf HENKEL MEP (DE)

Substitute Members:

– Charles TANNOCK MEP (UK)

ECR Members of the SEDE Sub-Committee:

– Anna FOTYGA MEP (PL), Committee Chairman
– Geoffrey VAN ORDEN MEP (UK), ECR coordinator
– Marek JUREK MEP (PL), ECR Deputy Coordinator

Substitute Members:


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